Biological Basis and Ethical/Legal Considerations of Psychotherapy

  • Post category:Nursing
  • Reading time:7 mins read
  • Post author:

Biological Basis and Ethical/Legal Considerations of Psychotherapy

Many studies have found that psychotherapy is as effective as psychopharmacology in terms of influencing changes in behaviors, symptoms of anxiety, and changes in mental state. Changes influenced by psychopharmacology can be explained by the biological basis of treatments. But how does psychotherapy achieve these changes? Does psychotherapy share common neuronal pathways with psychopharmacology?
Psychotherapy is used with individuals as well as in groups or families. The idea of discussing confidential information with a patient in front of an audience is probably quite foreign to you. However, in group and family therapy, this is precisely what the psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner does. In your role, learning how to provide this type of therapy within the limits of confidentiality is essential.
For this Discussion, you will consider whether psychotherapy also has a biological basis and analyze the ways in which legal and ethical considerations differ in the individual, family, and group therapy settings.
To prepare:
Review this week’s Learning Resources, reflecting on foundational concepts of psychotherapy, biological and social impacts on psychotherapy, and legal and ethical issues across the modalities (individual, family, and group).
Search the Walden Library databases for scholarly, peer-reviewed articles that inform and support your academic perspective on these topics.
Post an explanation of whether psychotherapy has a biological basis. Explain how culture, religion, and socioeconomics might influence one’s perspective on the value of psychotherapy treatments. Describe how legal and ethical considerations for group and family therapy differ from those for individual therapy, and explain how these differences might impact your therapeutic approaches for clients in group, individual, and family therapy. Support your rationale with at least three peer-reviewed, evidence-based sources and explain why each of your supporting sources is considered scholarly. Attach the PDFs of your sources.
Response to the discussion question is reflective with critical analysis and synthesis representative of knowledge gained from the course readings for the module and current credible sources.
40 (40%) - 44 (44%). Thoroughly responds to the discussion question(s).
Is reflective with critical analysis and synthesis representative of knowledge gained from the course readings for the module and current credible sources. No less than 75% of post has exceptional depth and breadth. Supported by at least 3 current credible sources.
6 (6%) - 6 (6%)   Written clearly and concisely.
Contains no grammatical or spelling errors.
Further adheres to current APA manual writing rules and style




Mental illnesses rob people of their ability to control their behaviors, deal with conflicting emotions, live with undue fear or guilt, love and experience joy, and have an accurate appraisal of reality. Mentally ill persons are also not able to work productively, think clearly, relate to others, and maintain self-value. Healthcare providers use different approaches to restore or promote healthy adaptation to mental illnesses. Some of the approaches include psychotherapy and psychopharmacology. This paper analyzes the effectiveness of psychotherapy, its effectiveness, an explanation of whether it has a biological basis, and factors influencing perspectives on psychotherapy effectiveness. The paper also scrutinizes how ethical and legal considerations of group and family therapy differ from individual therapy.

Biological Basis of Psychotherapy

Over the past years, there has been an exponential growth in the interest in integrating neuroscience into psychotherapy. While neuroscience focuses on the mechanistic understanding and analysis of brain functions, psychotherapy focuses on the richness of complex individual and clinical history and behavior. Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is an approach that utilizes various psychological techniques to promote adaptive living and alleviate distress. Locher et al. (2019) assert that psychotherapy is an effective intervention for a myriad of somatic, behavioral, and psychological disorders and is considered the main approach in mental health care management. Javanbakht and Alberini (2019) observe that psychotherapy is a comprehensive yet individualized biological treatment that taps into all biological regulators of the complex brain responses. Psychotherapy’s biological basis is also demonstrated in its result: the re-elaboration of the whole sense of others and self.

This is achieved through new experiences and learning encompassing internal regulation and emotional and cognitive responses. (Javanbakht & Alberini, 2019). Additionally, successful psychotherapy produces measurable physical changes in the brain, which are lasting and comprehensive. Current knowledge shows how exposure to therapy for a prolonged period impacts neural circuits related to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and neurobiological enhancements made or have been existing (Javanbakht & Alberini, 2019). These support the existence of the biological basis of psychotherapy.

Factors Affecting Perspective on the Value of Psychotherapy

One’s religion, culture, and socioeconomic activities affect their perspective on the value of psychotherapy treatment. Socioeconomic factors, including environmental risk factors and poverty, are associated with the onset and maintenance of psychiatric illnesses. People living in extreme poverty are less likely to access treatment, including psychotherapy. Therefore, they cannot savor nor appreciate the effectiveness and full value of psychotherapy in responding to mental health issues. Poor people are also more likely to drop out of therapy and consider it less effective (Levi et al., 2018). Additionally, Levi (2018) notes that poverty affects mental flexibility, sensitivity, and emotion regulation which are essential domains in ensuring the success of psychotherapy.

Religion and culture are recognized in accounting for and explaining health, illness, and experienced distress. They also influence one’s behaviors, beliefs, and emotions. Moleiro (2018) notes that culture shapes psychotherapy models, determines how acceptable or credible treatment approaches are in the eyes of a patient and their family members, and adherence to treatment approaches.

 Legal and Ethical Considerations

The ethical and legal considerations of family and group therapy differ from individual therapy and impact therapeutic approaches. The therapist must be aware and cautious not to breach the patient’s right to confidentiality in family and group therapy. In group therapy, members may also be unwilling to fully disclose details of some experiences for fear of their information being leaked by group members. The therapists in a family or group also pay close attention to their clients’ competency and personal values and try working those boundaries to avoid any violations.


 Psychotherapy offers a vital understanding of human behavior. However, it still lacks empirical methodologies and assessments. There should be more integration of methods and knowledge of neuroscience and psychotherapy to generate more knowledge and promote the development of more integrated therapeutic approaches.


Javanbakht, A., & Alberini, C. M. (2019). Editorial: Neurobiological Models of Psychotherapy. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 13.

Levi, U., Laslo-Roth, R., & Rosenstreich, E. (2018). Socioeconomic Status and Psychotherapy: A Cognitive-Affective View. Journal of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health Forecast, 1(2), 1008.

Locher, C., Meier, S., & Gaab, J. (2019). Psychotherapy: A World of Meanings. Frontiers in Psychology, 10(460).

Moleiro, C. (2018). Culture and Psychopathology: New Perspectives on Research, Practice, and Clinical Training in a Globalized World. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 9.